So this is officially my third year of taking the personal reading challenge.  The challenge is to set a goal to read a set number of books over the course of the year.  This year my goal was 48 books, which was 12 less than 2013.  During 2013, I felt like I was always in a race to finish books, and I was always leery of starting too large of a book.  This year, I’ve decided to slow down and enjoy the books I’ve selected.

I finished up all of the John Green books this year as well as tackled some classics that I’ve had on my list for quite a while.  As a whole, there was nothing that WOW’d me like “The Book Thief” and “The Dog Stars” did last year, but there were some notables.

RoomFavorite Book of the Year

Room – Emma Donoghue

What a story.  The way the author paints the world according to Jack, is amazing, surprising, yet so obvious once you begin to read it and think about it.

One wouldn’t think that such a small “room” would lend itself to both a world to describe from Jack’s point-of-view, or enough content for the book itself.

This is easily my most recommended book of the year.  Donoghue’s other books are now on my to-read list.

Runner Ups

We Were LiarsWe Were Liars – E. Lockhart

What can I say.  You need to read it, and I can’t tell you any more.  If you ask, I’ll lie.

Saying the end is a surprise is putting it very mildly.  It is out of complete left field. The first thing I ask someone who read it is, “Did you know?”

This was voted as the winner of the Reader’s Choice Award for YA Fiction for 2014.  It deserves it.

Take Me with YouTake Me With You – Catherine Ryan Hyde

I picked this one up, solely based on the rating from GoodReads.  I was not expecting much. Boy was I wrong.

It is the story of an annual RV road trip taken by a now-sober science teacher, who picks up two unexpected passengers.

The friendships formed are great and the descriptions of the areas of the west they visit are vivid.  It makes me want to buy a RV and head out.

The PainterThe Painter – Peter Heller

Were is not for reading “Room”, this would likely be my favorite of the year.  Peter Heller hits it out of the park again, after his first book “The Dog Stars”.

The story is about a well known painter, Jim, who stumbles on a man mistreating a horse.  Jim’s reaction rips his quiet life wide open.

It is a beautifully written book.

Some of What I’ve Learned/Reaffirmed

  • Gillian Flynn has some something wrong with her brain. But I like it. (Sharp Objects, Dark Places)
  • “Even beauty, in abundance, turns creepy.” (The Age of Miracles)
  • I have a new found respect for minorities (The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, The Book of Unknown Americans)
  • “A wrongdoing doesn’t give us the right to do wrong.” (Between Shades of Gray)
  • Everyone needs to understand how the real Mumbai (Behind the Beautiful Forevers)
  • Plastic will be the cause of earth’s downfall (Garbology)
  • Life goes on, regardless of outside influences (The Age of Miracles)
  • “Americans make more trash than anyone else on the planet, throwing away about 7.1 pounds per person per day, 365 days a year.” (Garbology)
  • “I used to think the world was broken down by tribes….By black and white. By Indian and white. But I know that isn’t true. The world is only broken into two tribes: The people who are assholes and the people who are not.” (The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian)
  • “A gun is not like a knife or a golf club. You can project idiocy a long ways with a gun.” (Gun Guys: A Road Trip)
  • “Your opinions are the result of years of paying attention to information that confirmed what you believed, while ignoring information that challenged your preconceived notions.” (You Are Not So Smart….)

The Whole List

The Perks of Being a Wallflower The Ghost of My Father Yes Please Sharp Objects The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story The Girl in 6E The Book of Unknown Americans We Were Liars Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything The Woman Upstairs Dark Places The Expats Business Adventures The Boy in the Striped Pajamas Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Travel Hacking One Hundred Names Take Me with You Factory Man: How One Furniture Maker Battled Offshoring, Stayed Local - and Helped Save an American Town The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time History Decoded The Burgess Boys The Painter Flowers for Algernon You Are Not So Smart: Why You Have Too Many Friends on Facebook, Why Your Memory Is Mostly Fiction, and 46 Other Ways You're Deluding Yourself Stupid Fast Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity You Can Buy Happiness (and It's Cheap): How One Woman Radically Simplified Her Life and How You Can Too Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief Trafficked: The Terrifying True Story of a British Girl Forced into the Sex Trade Defending Jacob Gun Guys: A Road Trip Looking for Alaska Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash How to Win Friends and Influence People Paper Towns Between Shades of Gray Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead Room Tell the Wolves I'm Home An Abundance of Katherines The Age of Miracles The Sense of an Ending Backpack Gourmet: Good Hot Grub You Can Make at Home, Dehydrate, and Pack for Quick, Easy, and Healthy Eating on the Trail The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Divergent I Am the Messenger

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